Defining the basics

One of my main goals as a generalist is to have a great understanding of the basics on several topics.

Great foundational knowledge will lead me to greatness.

Sounds easy, right?

Not for me. Not for us the fine people who really like to make things complicated. What are "the basics"? Is it theoretical? Practical? Common sense is to start from theory and move to practice but how much theory and how much pratice.

I need to remember that I'm not to became an expert. I need to be good enough and a bunch of different subjects. Possibly even great at one or two.

Tapping again on my quest to learn design (I'm still not even mediocre). I learned how design is about solving problems. Solving a problem for the user and aligning it to the goals of a business (or creators). The big questions are really worth a thorough analysis "What problem is design solving?", "How will it be perceived by the user?", "does the design serve the purpose of its existence". These are very powerful. After this you move to understanding the elements of user interface design (in this particular area of design).

I understand (but not master) the basics and yet I can't produce a reasonable User Interface. Enters tactics. Recently I learned that you shouldn't start a design from a blank canvas. "Don't design without content". So write down the answer to bigger questions, collect pictures, illustration and the things you need to create the design. This drastically changed how I approach design.

And I'm left wondering. The basic theory is for the most part easily accessbile but what are the various tactics, techniques and frameworks that can unlock your ability to execute on a subject. Any of the ones you need as a generalist.